Saturday, December 11, 2010

Favorite Fairy Tales of People Past: Totally Fun Silliness

So when I gushed in my previous entry about the Fairytale Reflections series at Seven Miles of Steel Thistles, I started daydreaming about Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte writing entries as well as some other authors.  Anyone want to play the game with me?

What would the favorite fairy tales of favorite deceased authors be? 

Charlotte Bronte is rather easy.  Jane Eyre and her other works lead me to think Beauty and the Beast with Bluebeard. That one's really too easy.

Would Jane Austen pick Beauty and the Beast, too? She certainly liked Cinderella tropes but would she claim it as a favorite? She predates The Ugly Duckling, but she would probably have embraced that one, too.

And speaking of Bluebeard, it had a special influence with L. M. Montgomery.  She references it much more frequently than just in her The Blue Castle which is certainly partially inspired by it. I learned about Bluebeard from Montgomery actually.  She referenced it so often that I had to learn just what the tale was when I was an adolescent reading anything by Montgomery I could get my hands on.

And, by the way, we already know somewhat that Dickens loved Little Red Riding Hood.  He once wrote: "Little Red Riding Hood was my first love. I felt that if I could have married Little Red Riding Hood I should have known perfect bliss."

Several years ago I acquired a copy of Favorite Fairy Tales: The Childhood Choice of Representative Men and Women illustrated by Peter Newell to share the illustrations on SurLaLune. I was thrilled to find a list of important figures from that time who had chosen some of their favorite fairy tales. Mark Twain put his name on Aladdin and Ali Baba. Howard Pyle chose Little Snowdrop (Snow White). Julia Ward Howe chose Beauty and the Beast. Henry James chose Hop o' My Thumb. Jane Addams chose The Ugly Duckling. Grover Cleveland chose Cinderella. You can see the entire list in the table of contents provided at Project Gutenberg where the book has been digitized much more recently.

Many of the people are not as well known today, but their choices are interesting. It's always interesting how the gender lines are drawn in the choices, too.  Arabian Nights and Jack and the Beanstalk tends to be a male choice although the men are more willing to choose female heroines, too.  Apparently, they listened and cared about those stories decades ago despite socialization that makes us think they can't or won't.  (Hollywood I'm looking at you!)  Of course, these days Scherazade gets more press so women pick her story from Arabian Nights pretty frequently too.

So play the game and pick an author and speculate over his/her favorite fairy tale.  I've already found myself devoting too much time to the exercise.

1 comment:

  1. My pick is Wilkie Collins! With his unusually (for Victorian era) strong, resourceful female characters I think he'd quite like Count Silvernose - which is a Bluebeard variation, but in which an unconventional/unattractive, but highly intelligent heroine saves her sisters - not unlike Marion Halcombe in The Woman in White.

    I also think Jane Austen could be said to favor Cinderella as so many of her heroines end up with impossibly good romantic alliances.

    And then I think that someone like Mark Twain would favor any story in which a common man outwits his adversaries - Jack and the Beanstalk, Puss in Boots, etc.

    Oooo, this is fun!